Items owned by Rob Roy and Napoleon, the spoils of war and keys left behind by Mary, Queen of Scots will be among the highlights when the former Abbotsford home of author Sir Walter Scott welcomes the public back inside.
A £12 million project has resulted in two new rooms at the pioneering writer’s 19th century domicile in the Scottish Borders. It has been closed for two years, despite a well-received Abbotsford Visitor Centre opening with a special exhibition at the site last year.
The Queen will officially reopen Abbotsford, where a library features more than 7,000 books, dwarfing Scott’s own study of 2,000 works. They overlook the desk he once wrote at, and an Entrance Hall and Religious Corridor are lined with stone carvings and suits of armour.
The Abbotsford Trust still needs to raise £2.5 million once the famous retreat has opened. Its Chief Executive, Jason Dyer, said Scott’s old home would be a “world-class visitor attraction” worthy of a figure possessing “iconic literary and cultural status.”
“When the Trust first took over Abbotsford, visitor numbers were dwindling and the house was in urgent need of repair,” he said, reflecting on a six-year plan.
“We are confident that Abbotsford will now resume its role as one of the world’s foremost literary attractions, bringing visitors from home and abroad.
“Sir Walter Scott was a global superstar in his time and, even today, his influence is far-reaching.
“This is the place that Scott loved and that inspired much of his work.”
Design fans might be equally enamoured with the Drawing Room, known for its hand-painted Chinese wallpaper, and the Armoury and Ante Room, which holds Scott’s extensive collection of arms.
He died in The Dining Room in 1832, having seen his books translated in dozens of languages across the world. The Chapel was added by his granddaughter, Charlotte, 23 years later.
Rob Roy’s broadsword, dagger, gun and purse, a pen and blotter containing a lock of Napoleon’s hair, a scrap of fruitcake from the Battle of Culloden and the keys to a castle retrieved after the Queen of Scots’ 1568 escape are among the 9,000 objects demonstrating Scott’s antiquarian tendencies.
Many of them have been catalogued, cleaned and repaired during lengthy conservation work, most visibly on the crumbling stonework of the building’s exterior and the fabric of the building. Curators have displayed the artefacts based on drawings of the house made by JMW Turner and William Allan in 1831 and 1832.
The Hope Scott Wing will be converted into luxury self-catering accommodation as a means of creating income for the heritage centre. A new Learning Centre has also been created.
- Reopens July 4 2013.
© Paul Dodds
© Paul Dodds
© Paul Dodds